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Broadband assistance funds dry up; New leader for Heart Butte schools; Rosendale enters Senate race

Rep. Rosendale joins the U.S. Senate race
Montana Public Radio | Shaylee Ragar

Montana Republican Congressman Matt Rosendale is running for the U.S. Senate – despite pressure from GOP leaders to stay out of the race. He’s kickstarted a contentious Republican primary, which will decide who takes on U.S. Democratic Senator Jon Tester.

Rosendale filed his official paperwork at the state Capitol Friday. He was surrounded by Republican lawmakers, members of the far-right state Freedom Caucus and other supporters.

Rosendale says his record over a decade in Montana politics makes him the best candidate to take on Tester.

“They know that they can trust me. I don’t just make campaign promises. I actually serve the way I campaign. And that’s the refreshing difference that they’re looking for in their representation.”

Former Navy Seal and Bozeman business owner Tim Sheehy entered the race last June. He has the backing of several prominent Republicans, including Montana U.S. Sen. Steve Daines, who’s leading GOP efforts to take back the Senate.

Sheehy also clinched the endorsement of former President Donald Trump shortly after Rosendale announced his candidacy.

Daines said in a statement it’s “unfortunate” Rosendale decided to run and create a “divisive primary.” He pointed to Rosendale’s unsuccessful bid to unseat Tester in 2018, saying Republicans cannot risk losing the chance to flip Tester’s seat, and possibly, the U.S. Senate.

Although big names and super PACs are rallying behind Sheehy, Rosendale is betting on his grassroots support from Montana Republicans. Speaker of the House Matt Regier was among Rosendale’s supporters Friday.

“We need to fight to change the direction of this country and Matt Rosendale is a fighter. And the other candidates are just question marks.”

Chair of the Montana GOP Party Don K Kaltscmidt says the state party will not endorse a candidate for the U.S. Senate primary. He said he’s confident in whoever wins to take on Tester.

Federal broadband assistance program runs out of funds
Montana Public Radio | By Najifa Farahat

The federal program that helps people pay broadband internet bills stopped accepting new enrollments this week due to lack of funds. Millions of people could lose access to the internet as a result.

The remaining funds will fully run out in May 2024.

The Affordable Connectivity Program helps around 23 million households across the country.

Their internet bills will now increase up to $30 in the next few months.

The Biden Administration has urged Congress for an extra $6 billion to keep the program going until the end of 2024, but lawmakers have not yet acted.

Montana ranks as 44 in the nation for internet coverage, speed and availability.

According to BroadbandNow's survey, nearly half of Montanans cannot find broadband for $60 a month or less.

Blackfeet Reservation school gets a new interim superintendent
Montana Public Radio | By Austin Amestoy

A longtime public schools administrator is taking the reins at a school on the Blackfeet Reservation struggling with financial woes. That’s according to a report from the Daily Montanan.

Greg Upham took over as interim superintendent at Heart Butte School Friday. Upham served as superintendent for Billings Public Schools for four years before retiring in 2023 after 36 years in education.

The Daily Montanan reports the Heart Butte school board selected Upham to help the district recover from millions of dollars in debt due to financial mismanagement. The school terminated more than 30 staff last month in an effort to save money.

Austin graduated from the University of Montana’s journalism program in May 2022. He came to MTPR as an evening newscast intern that summer, and jumped at the chance to join full-time as the station’s morning voice in Fall 2022.

He is best reached by emailing
Shaylee covers state government and politics for Montana Public Radio. Please share tips, questions and concerns at 406-539-1677 or  
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